Free-to-use mobile app Agora launched the #BestPhotoOf2020 contest on March 30th, inviting photographers from all over the world to participate in the biggest photo contest of the year.
Over the past 8 months, +35k submissions from over 135 countries participated in the global contest, from which 50 finalist photos were selected for the final voting rounds on the Agora app.
The 50 finalist photos are now competing for the grand prize of $25,000 which will be awarded to the image which will gather the highest number of votes from the Agora user base and global community, revealed on December 28th.
How does the voting system work?
We've been overwhelmed by the quality of the +35k photos we've received in the #BestPhotoOf2020 Awards. We'd like to thank all the photographers around the world who shared their best images. We now invite everyone, everywhere to join our global democratic system and cast their votes on the Agora app to decide which finalist photo should be voted #BestPhotoOf2020 and win the $25,000 prize. Everyone's point of view is important and contributes to a global result that decides the World’s Best Photo of 2020. Together, Humanity chooses the best images of the world, the images that represent all of us, making the voting process a deeply meaningful and beautiful practice for all. Power to the people!
Octavi Royo, Agora's CEO & Co-Founder
Discover the 50 finalist photos:
'Color can affect people's emotions' by @agyemanduah (Ghana)
Location: Trust Sports Emporium, Accra, Ghana
I took this photo with the objective to portray how colors affect people's emotions. Yellow breeds happiness. Blue has a calming effect. With the $25,000 prize, I would finally upgrade my camera gear to suit the quality and quantity of content I have in mind to create.
'El lago de los sueños' by @andreamengo (Spain)
Location: Ruta de los molinos de La Mancha, Spain
We wanted to represent the place where our dreams are created. We wanted to transmit a lot of peace, but above all a magical feeling. If I get to win the $25,000, first of all, I'd jump for joy then secondly, I'd invest in better equipment so that I can continue doing what I like the most in life!
'Winter in the city of Nur-Sultan' by @andrei_pugach (Russia)
Location: Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan
It was about -20C° outside, on a frosty morning in Nur-Sultan, the capital of Kazakhstan. The snow was crunching under my feet and even with gloves, my hands got cold quickly. The sun was shining brightly, releasing a beautiful light and graphic shades so I decided to raise my drone. The "Khan Shatyr" ("Royal tent") seen in the center of the photo is one of Kazakhstan's most famous building: it was included in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest tent in the world. The rhythm of modern life is very fast. It seems that everyone is always busy, in a rush or has no free time leading people to stop noticing the simple and surprisingly beautiful things that surround us. If I become a winner, I will invest the prize money in my equipment, as well as to go to new places, taking others with me, in order to escape the hustle and bustle for a moment and show them the uniqueness and beauty of what is sometimes near, but that we persistently do not notice.
'Sacred soul' by @asimijaz (Pakistan)
On a road trip, I saw this elderly man in a shop. Although he was a stranger to me, I thought he would be an interesting subject for some portrait shots so I asked him if I could take his photo. During the shoot, he just stared at me, not bothered at all by my shooting. His attire was so traditional, a pure village guy. The shop was empty and dark, but I believe that photographers can transform something ordinary, extraordinary so I placed my subject at the door of the shop to get a dark background. This way, I could make the most of both the natural light that was bouncing in from the roadside and the dark background behind him, enhanced with my flashgun to give this shot a dramatic portrait feel. If I win, I will upgrade my photography equipment and plan a trip to capture the beauty of Europe.
'The shadows' by @caokynhan (Vietnam)
Location: Hon Ba,Vũng Tàu, Vietnam
This shot was taken during the full moon of January. From above, the people's silhouettes seem to pour into the sand. Hon Ba is a small island where the tide is quite low in the morning; therefore people can walk out to the island. People only gather there at this time of year, making it a very special place. My home country of Vietnam has suffered a lot this year both from the epidemic and natural disasters. Many areas in Vietnam are suffering from storms and floods, so if I were to become the Hero, I would spend 50% of the prize to help them.
'Garbage disposal area' by @cymot (Indonesia)
Location: Karanganyar, Indonesia
This landfill catches fire almost every year during the dry season on this 17-hectare area, due to methane gas contained in the garbage. It amazes yet saddens me that there are people who, despite the health hazards, tirelessly look for scraps or items they want to go on to sell in order to be able to provide for their families. I would use the prize to donate and build a place of worship near my hometown, and to develop my business in photography.
'Kelitsadi Lake' by @damiane (Georgia)
Location: Kelitsadi Lake, Kazbegi, Georgia
The emotion I try to convey through this photo is a feeling of peace, achieved from being alone and finding oneself. This photo was taken 3080 meters above sea level, which makes the weather so cold and difficult to enter in the volcanic lake, despite what the conditions of the day and garments of the model might suggest.
'Historia de Venezuela' by @donaldobarros (Venezuela)
Location: Caracas, Venezuela
The subjects of this photo are two soldiers who were part of the Venezuelan government's containment group in charge of dissipating the 2017 protests against Nicolás Maduro and his administration, and a Nun named Esperanza. In 2017 I tried to document in the best way the social chaos that was being experienced in Venezuela. On that day, there was a lot of repression on the part of the security forces; it got aggressive. When the protest died down, I saw a nun walking towards me who asked for help to get to the highway where these two men were. When she reached the military, she told them: "My name is Esperanza, and hope this is the last thing you lose." It had been a terrible day, but I feel that Sister Esperanza's words reached the hearts of the military. My intention was to convey hope for a country that is full of problems; a country submerged in a very deep social, political, and economic crisis. Photography has been my means of communication and creation, and through art, I seek to inspire and motivate, especially Venezuelans who are without hope. I'm still in Venezuela trying. Being the best possible citizen. Making art. Communicating. Behind that photo is an entire country that continues to suffer today. I would use this money to inspire more photographers to keep taking photos and never lose hope of being seen and valued. Winning this award, living in a country like Venezuela, would be a direct light of the universe.
'Afghan Girl in 2020' by @dutkaakosfoto (Hungary)
Location: Nyiregyhaza, Hungary
I took this shot of my wife as part of a project in my photography school, where I got a task to reproduce a well-known photo or artwork. My first thought was Steve McCurry's well known Afghan girl, but I wanted to change it up and add a contemporary twist. I wanted to add our sad actual reality and make a symbol of the year 2020. So I decided to give the 'Afghan girl' a mask. Perhaps this is one of the best expressions of this sad situation that has weighed on humanity this year. It was a difficult task to recreate but my wife’s beautiful expressive eyes were given made it easier. If my photo wins the top prize, I would take my wife on an exotic journey because she deserves it. It goes without saying that we'd go somewhere where I could take a lot of brilliant photos.
'Ao Dai' by @duysinh (Vietnam)
Location: Quảng Ngãi, Vietnam
In my photo, a Vietnamese girl is seen wearing an Ao Dai, the national dress of Vietnam which is highly valued by Vietnamese women. I'd like to invite everyone to honor and show respect for the unique cultural traditions of each country and the role of women today. Ao Dai portraits are usually only taken with a terrestrial camera, but using a drone for this photo showed a different, broader, and wider view with the scenery of the vast meadows. I would love to use the prize money to contribute to supporting the current climate change relief work in my country.
'Standing before giants' by @e.stis (Italy)
Location: Cadini di Misurina, Auronzo di Cadore, Italy
Through this shot, I wanted to show how massive these peaks are. I asked a friend to stand in that spot in order to give an idea of the scale. This is one of those places in the Italian Dolomites that I’ve always wanted to see with my own eyes. We woke up at 2 am and drove a couple of hours to make sure to get to this spot for sunrise. Sunrise itself was a bit disappointing, however as the sun was getting higher in the sky some huge, low clouds started dancing around the peaks, creating this eerie atmosphere. I quickly asked my friend to stand on that spot and as soon as the peaks were out again I took this photo. If I win, I would definitely invest the prize in what I love doing the most, which is photography. The photographic gear I’m currently using is quite basic and for a long time now I’ve been dreaming about upgrading my camera body and buying some prime lenses, and as every photographer knows, they’re ridiculously expensive. This would allow me not to take better photos since I strongly believe you don’t need expensive gear to do that, but to pursue a career as a photographer, which has always been my biggest dream.
'Atlanta Protest' by @e2ek (USA)
Location: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
My submission shows one of the protest organizers in Atlanta, transmitting the passion for wanting to end the inequality faced by black people in America. With the prize money I would continue to invest in myself financially and my photography equipment, as well as paying down some of my student loan debt.
@e2ek, United States
'My friend Jane, the real soldier' by @elena.zp (Ukraine)
Location: Zaporizhia, Ukraine
This photo was taken in my apartment, right before my model and dear friend Alyona's surgery. Alyona is 27 years old and is fighting aggressive cancer. It was the hardest photoshoot in both of our lives. During this shoot, I tried to pull myself together and support my friend. It is very difficult for a girl to open and show the whole world her vulnerability. But during processing, I cried a lot. This photo moved me. The beauty of a young girl and the horror of the disease. Alyona has 5 brothers and her family could not support her financially with this operation, so these photos helped to partially raise funds. If I get to win the top prize, I will support cancer fighters and first of all my friend and model. I believe she will make it!
'I saw a storm coming up the coast' by @epicworld_photography (Australia)
Location: Fraser Island (K'Gari), Australia
Taken during storm season, a storm cell moves up the coast dropping some CG (cloud to ground) lightning. I had never really shot lightning before and saw this storm cell approaching so thought I'd use long exposure to try and capture a bolt or two. When out in nature it is always my intention to capture the epic and effortless beauty of our natural world. Cloud to ground lightning is the least common but best understood of all types of lightning. It predominantly starts in the cloud and ends on the earth, but can also occur in the reverse direction from the ground to the cloud. If I win, I will celebrate and find some land to buy and to live simply from.
'Speed in flight' by @fitotejada, (Guatemala)
Location: San Rafael Piel de la Cuesta, Guatemala
Through this photo, I tried to convey the importance of taking care of the environment and the beauty of the Guatemalan fauna. It took a lot of time to take the photo until the hummingbirds finally showed up. If I get to win the big prize, I would donate to preserve the Guatemalan fauna and environment.
'My wife, my pearl' by @fondphoto (Russia)
Location: Koyashskoe Salt Lake, Crimea, Russia.
I shot this picture of my wife wearing a dress we made ourselves from fabric that reflects all the colors of the rainbow. In the summer, this lake turns pink due to the special plankton - one of the most unusual places I've been to. This lake has a depth of just 3-4 centimeters so when you walk on it, it feels as if you are walking across the sky, as the water reflects it. Through this shot, I wanted to achieve a minimalistic picture, with no human structures, that transmits tranquility and unity with nature. The dress, which looks more like a pearl, does not have its own color but reflects the environment, thus it fits perfectly in harmony with the rest of the picture. We got a nasty surprise on this shoot given that the salt on this lake sinks underfoot, scratches the skin, and causes pain, meaning we also had to throw out the shoes which we were wearing. Then when the dress dried out, it turned to stone, like wet clothes in a severe frost. If I were to win, I'd use the money to pay off our mortgage and go on a new trip for new adventurous photos with my wife.
'Family Moment' by @freeilli (Italy)
Location: Etosha Pan, Namibia
This moment of a male lion playing with his cub was definitely the most exciting moment during several safaris I have done between 2011 and 2014. I love observing animals and their interactions and my goal through animal photography isn't just capturing these beautiful creatures, but also framing a moment to show how much animals are similar to humans in their behavior. I wish this image would help to raise awareness on the topic of wilderness conservation: we as humans cannot thrive if we don't protect biodiversity. Normally, during safaris, you end up being surrounded by several tourists, especially when you look for big creatures. What I found surprising about this moment was the random decision of going, right after sunrise, to a more quiet part of the park. Who would have expected to be surrounded by a pride of around 40 lions (male, female, and cubs)? Seeing them playing and, right after, walking around our car, made me relive my childhood memories of watching "The Lion King". It was exciting, but also a bit scary. The current pandemic has affected the lives of many; I included seeing has it resulted in me recently losing my job. Even though I am lucky enough to be eligible for government help, this money is not enough to finance the start of my own photography business. For this reason, I would use part of the prize for that and another part I will use as a donation for causes that support wildlife and biodiversity conservation.
'Where life begins and love never ends' by @giovani.dressler (Brazil)
Location: Ijuí, Brazil
After 10 years of sharing love between two, January 2020 marked the beginning of a new stage. After 9 months of waiting and 10 hours of labor, this photo portrays the exact moment when Alícia was embraced by the arms of her Mom and Dad. The start of a family, the start of a new love story. If I win, I would invest in photographic projects around the world, photographing different cultures.
'Sedge Harvest' by @hoacarol (Vietnam)
Location: Yen province, Vietnam
My photo represents the farmers harvesting the sedge which will be later used to weave mats. I associate these mats with my childhood, as every family in Vietnam uses this kind of mat to sleep on. If I win, I will take my wife on a trip and donate a part of the prize to charities.
'Twin Boys together at home during the world pandemic crisis' by @hwilson8 (USA)
Location: Lena, IL, USA
The subjects of my photography are my twin sons, Luke and James, and the connection they have as identical twins. There is a very real need for connectedness and comfort in others. We, as humans, long for togetherness, connection, understanding by our fellow humans. My boys have a unique connection that I have only been privileged to witness as identical twins. Although the isolation of recent world events has been devastating and difficult for so many, children possess innocence and intuitiveness in knowing when it's necessary to feel connected, in a way we all do. The emotion I wanted to convey was just that: being connected, being together, and understanding one another in a world that often feels so divided is a healing and powerful source of strength and motivation to keep growing, keep moving, and not to give in to the oppression so many in today's world feel. Surprisingly this photo was not staged although it may look like it was. The boys were together on the landing on our stairs and they were laying together. Right as I shot the image one boy closed his eyes while the other looked straight at me. I often find them together like this. Close, connected, touching. There are so many children needing homes and shelter right now in America and in the world at large. They need medical care, loving homes, people to come alongside them, and love who they are no matter their race or heritage. I would most certainly use much of the prize money to continue the fight for the children of the world to have clean water, a place to live, and a loving home.
'Winter Road' by @imkaphotos (Germany)
Location: Allgäu, Germany
This shot is special to me not only because I captured it on my birthday but because I have wanted to shoot at this location since I was a little child, before drones were well known. It was a particular challenge to get this shot due to the really cold weather conditions of Allgäu in January, nearly losing my drone. If I were to win the prize I would be ecstatic and would invite all my friends and family for a great dinner. Time with my friends and family is what is most important to me. Then I would buy some more photography equipment and invest in a new course to get my photography to the next level.
'The gateway to another world' by @irinasigl (Germany)
Location: Upper Bavaria, Germany
In this shot of my niece diving in a lake, you can spot that the surface of the water, this small line between water and air, is at the same time a mirror of our world but also the gateway to a completely different one - the world of water. It separates and connects these two worlds equally. Floating in the water is like being in a different dimension: there are no borders anymore, and you can't feel the ground under your feet. This can give you an immense feeling of freedom, but can also be scary. There is nothing left to hold on to and you have to have the courage to lose control. It is like the way back to our origins because water was our element before we were born. It was the place where we grew up and developed before we started our life as newborns on Earth. This picture is part of a series that should document our way back to our origins. For a long time, I had the dream and vision to take pictures underwater. I wanted to do this in a new way, a way that conveys more how we're feeling when being a part of the element water and how we perceive it. This year I bought an underwater housing for my camera and started to take pictures underwater. Although I have spent lots of time swimming and have been photographing since I was a child, this was still a completely new experience for me. I purposely didn't take underwater photography classes or watch tutorials beforehand as I wanted my experience of exploring, experiencing, and feeling the element of water anew with all my senses to be reflected in my pictures. For this reason, I also don't take photos of professional models but watched how my son and niece approached the element of water in a very natural way and with their hearts. If I win, I would surely cry with joy and then buy myself more photographer gear to continue to live my dream as an artist and photographer!
'A polar bear swimming in the high arctic' by @jdubcaptures (Canada)
Location: Baffin Island, Canada
As climate change touches the globe over, bears will be stranded on land for longer periods of time, and swimming longer distances. The shoot aimed to shine a light on the front lines and last line of climate change. Droning animals can be controversial, I had spent a few days tracking this bear, who displayed curious and brazen behaviors towards snowmobiles and people. When I saw him jump into the ocean from the ice through my telephoto, I popped my drone up and hoped he'd be curious enough to swim by to take a look. Once he swam by I did not pursue further. If I win, I would donate 20% of this money directly to Polar Bears International, and purchase a 600mm prime to create more impactful images of our wild world.
'When the muddy river meets the ocean' by @joao.galamba (Portugal)
Location: Dili, Timor-Leste
The first rains of the year in Timor-Leste make the rivers start flowing again, bringing mud and trash from the mountains to the ocean. This water can be seen separated in two: the brownish muddy river water and the deep blue ocean water, however nowhere near as clearly at sea level than as from the air. The fishes are attracted and get closer to the shore. After taking off the drone and facing the camera downwards, I was stunned by what I was seeing: the thick texture and brownish color of the river contrasting with the soft texture and deep blue color of the ocean was not something that I have ever seen in my life! This project was not planned, at least not in the same way as I imagined it. I borrowed a drone from a friend to continue a project of mine on Timorese fishermen that use the apnea technique to fish. I already had underwater photos as well as photos “on the sea level”, so aerial photos were the last step of the project. I asked my friend for the drone on that day because I knew that there were more fishermen fishing during the first rains of the year, but I had no idea that seen from above the scenery would be so spectacular! If I win, I would fly back to Timor-Leste and finish the projects that I left open-ended, such as the apnea fishermen, who are living heroes that deep dive for over 5 minutes, without any equipment, to fish and survive. There are not many places where people fish this way and some studies even prove that their lungs and body have developed to allow them to stay longer underwater without breathing.
'Northern gannets' by @joeshellyy (UK)
Location: Bempton Cliffs, Yorkshire, UK
Gannets will rub beaks to strengthen the bond between breeding pairs. After a few days at these cliffs on the Yorkshire coast, I was lucky enough to capture 2 pairs of gannets rubbing beaks simultaneously. If I win, I would donate part to help protect our beautiful British wildlife and use part to help me with my dream of becoming a wildlife filmmaker."
'Remember to look down' by @joncleave (UK)
You’d think it was a painting. But in fact, it’s actually Iceland’s bubbling and colourful, geothermal planes. The natural world is full of colours, and sometimes it’s quite literally an art canvas. What’s most interesting is, without the advancement of new technologies scaling us to new heights, we’d miss out on these mesmerising birds-eye views, and accessing these melting pools by foot are virtually impossible. So unexpectedly capturing these fleeting moments and fresh perspectives are hard to come by. They call Iceland the land of fire and ice for good reason. The winter storms and wind-speeds were like no other, yet this picturesque scene shows nothing of the sort - as the grounds below are so hot, snow would never form over these colourful planes. But the filmmakers and photographers capturing these unique scenes understand the complexities to a sun-arctic winter expedition. I’ve just founded my own film studios startup and would use it to embark on this incredible, daunting and exhilarating adventure that lies ahead.
'The wreck of an illegal fishing vessel' by @jordisark (Spain)
Pangandaran beach, Indonesia
There are those who say that the border between legal and illegal is somewhere between being caught or not. And it was among those seas that the infamous fishing vessel sailed for years, being wanted by 13 different nations for fish poaching. Now, its wreckage rests in this fine border between sea and land as a display of Indonesian maritime power, as a symbol of the fate that awaits those who try to do the exact same. It took me 3 hours to take this photo because I waited until the shadows were exactly where I wanted them to be. If I win, I would love to donate a part of this prize, buy new equipment and invest another part of it to travel again and focus on humanitarian photography.
'Farmers' by @jorgebacelar (Portugal)
Location: Estarreja, Aveiro, Portugal
This Portuguese shepherd carefully transports the newborn goatling into the corral. This moment of affection between the shepherd and the animal shows respect and the careful way how animals are treated. The animal seeks protection and the shepherd takes care of it with love. I am a veterinarian and with my photography, I try to record moments of affection and to show the respect that farmers have for their animals. It is a way of honoring my farmers, who work from sunrise to sunset and whose work is unfortunately underpaid. I have been witnessing the respect and the affectionate way these small farmers treat their animals for many years. If I win, I would use the money to renovate an old house of mine, converting it into a museum for my daughter’s paintings and for my photographic work. My daughter died in January this year. This would help me to honor her memory and honor the farmers with whom I work.
'The City Sparkles' by @jsrpixel (Hong Kong)
Location: Hong Kong
The shot is to capture a glimpse of the classic concrete jungle in the central area of Hong Kong from a god's eye angle. It is a perspective from which you can appreciate the full extent of the glowing roads and twinkling city lights all combine to provide a breathtaking view of the Hong Kong cityscape. If I win, I will share the joy and money with my family and friends and donate parts of it to my preferred charity. After that, I will spend the rest to better equip my photography gear and capture more stunning photos.
@jsrpixel, Hong Kong
'My son seeing the world differently' by @kytawillets (USA)
Location: Pensacola, Florida, USA
My son is staring out of his window after nearly 1,000 miles of driving. What he sees is so uniquely different from what the rest of us are seeing and thus he has an intriguing quietness to him that I felt compelled to capture. This child, while healthy now, spent the first few years of his life sick with a Gastrointestinal disease. He had a feeding tube for the first 8 years of his life. If I win, I think I would use part of the money to go to some type of photography school. I have always loved learning and photography school could be a lovely fit for me right now in my life. I would use the other part of the money for childcare while I am in school.
'Empty Streets' by @leemumford8 (Hong Kong)
Location: San Francisco, USA
An early start in March 2020 saw me on location at least thirty minutes before sunrise to shoot from this famous angle, looking down California Street. As I patiently waited, I couldn’t believe my luck as everything started to fall in place. The perfect light, the iconic tram, the famous hilly road of California street, the Oakland bay bridge, AND eventually, the famous “Karl the Fog” started to roll in. I didn’t post this photo until a few months later - the time when the pandemic was in full swing, forcing the entire world into lockdown. As this image was taken during the early hours of the morning with little traffic, it gives the sense of emptiness and would have been a very common sight throughout this year. With the lack of travel this year, I've spent the majority of my spare time investing in myself and setting up a photography business. If I was lucky enough to win, I would, first of all, donate 10% of the winnings to those in need. I feel it's important to help give back to those that aren't as fortunate as us. The remainder I will use to expand my photography business, with a large portion of it invested in teaching and inspiring others.
@leemumford8, Hong Kong
'Uneven Powers' by @leo.wies (Germany)
Location: Kelingking Beach, Nusa Penida, Indonesia
That day, I took my scooter to go to Kelingking Beach to watch the sunset. When I got there, I was impressed by the height of the cliff from which you can look down on the beach. Even when looking down from high up, I felt that the waves on the beach were huge. There was only one person walking close to the shoreline. When I saw this scene I couldn't help but think of the unequal powers that met face to face in this particular moment. I really wanted to emphasize the feeling of a fragile human, being so close to an uncontrollable powerful part of nature. Many friends asked me if I used my drone to take this photo but in reality, I was standing at the edge of the cliff and took the photo with a telephoto lens on my regular camera. It would mean the world to me as it would give me the opportunity and financial freedom to really focus on pursuing the dream of becoming a full-time photographer and videographer. It would also take a great weight off my shoulders, which would help me to have a healthier mind and a more fulfilled life in pursuing what I love.
'Smile of Mom' by @manhcuongvuong (Vietnam)
Location: Khanh Vinh District, Khanh Ho, Vietnam
The photo captures an old person cooking, from the Raglai ethnic minority of Khanh Vinh mountainous district. I took it as part of the Help-Portrait Programme, which is a community of photographers and volunteers from around the world who voluntarily devote their time, equipment, and expertise to photographing people in need. With the idea that photographers take pictures, print and send them to people, and more importantly, give them a belief and joy in life. This woman was extremely happy to be photographed for the first time, if not also a little embarrassed, it was a special moment for me as it is for her. Through the pictures we know, happiness often comes from very simple things. Everyone's happiness is different. If I were to become the Hero and win the prize of 25,000 dollars, I will first fund travel to places far from the city where there are still difficulties, using my passion for photography to capture beautiful moments, spread the message to help people share and love each other more.
'Skywatchers' by @matheo_jbt (France)
Location: NOEMA Observatory, IRAM in Massif du Devoluy, France
It was a beautiful night. The plateau at an altitude of 2550m, to get there we walked for 3 hours and over 1000m high. It was a pretty tough hike, especially with all the photography and camping gear. When we got to the top, there were a lot of clouds but they quickly dissipated at sunset to leave us a perfectly clear sky all night. We didn't get much sleep that night because the show was so incredible. The dishes you can see in this photo rotate to orient in different positions, so on many occasions we had to start again because they had turned during the long exposure. With the prize, my dream is to go around the world, as soon as it is possible again of course...
'The Door of Faith' by @nobel.du (Bangladesh)
Location: Saudi Arabia
Holding the door of the Holy Kaaba in Saudi Arabia, they ask God for forgiveness for their sins. There is a huge crowd near the door, which is very difficult to reach. I took this picture in the evening. The movement of man in front of the door signifies going to God. It was difficult to find the right place to capture the right moment in order to take it carefully with my camera among crowds. If I win, I would buy some new equipment for my camera, give a part of the prize to the poor and then definitely some travel to other countries, because I love traveling.
'The Grand Mosque' by @patriciasoon (Malaysia)
Location: Abu Dhabi, UAE
I used a long exposure to define the curves of the beautiful domes of the mosque and the dark clouds adding a sense of calm to the symmetrical structure. If I win, I would save 50% of it for future use, and 50% I would donate to charity.
'Maria's silhouette' by @paulaaranoa (Argentina)
Location: Las Sequoias, Buenos Aires, Argentina
This image was taken in August of this year, at my house of my daughter, María. It tells the story of a very long confinement of a young woman full of dreams to be fulfilled. Her story is shared with many other young people who, from one day to the next, a virus obliged them to postpone their desire to fly. But it is also the story of a young woman with character, who knew how to raise her head, put the brake on a reality that seemed to want to extinguish her, and quite the opposite: she stood tall, reinvented herself and shone, even though veiled by a curtain. It is a story that was replicated by many, to whom I give a standing ovation. If I get to win, I would share this prize with my daughter as she is part of this and deserves it. I also think I should invest in improving my photography equipment, and I would like to be able to invest in some other photography trip.
'What would the world be like if we all had the same face?' by @pavelkun (Russia)
Location: Surgut State Pedagogical University Concert Hall, Russia
I took this conceptual shot to incite reflection of the following hypothesis: Imagine for a moment how much our lives would have changed if we all had the same face. Perhaps we wouldn't know the words racism, tolerance? Perhaps we would pay more attention to the inner, rather than the outer, side of a person? But when I go deeper, I understand that even in this case, people would have figured out how to divide each other into social groups. If I win, I would use this money to pay off the loan for my house and create a studio for myself.
'A United Struggle' by @photogerard (Ghana)
Location: Achimota, Accra, Ghana
This photo depicts warrior-looking young men united in chorus of affirming the belief in themselves as a group. This photo has become increasingly meaningful to me for many reasons. Due to the global pandemic and the implementation of social distancing, it occurred to me that such gathering of people will be a rare sight for a while. Coupled with the #BlackLivesMatter movement and mass demonstrations all over the world that have been a major part of 2020, I found this photo symbolic and meaningful to the fight for racial equality and unity. The photo conveys unity, strength, and determination. Furthermore it now also illustrates the furor of the #EndSars demonstrations in Nigeria. If I win, I would invest in my photography to travel and meet new people, landscapes, and stories of as many places as I can.
'Taking a camel ride through the desert at sunset' by @pixelpann (UK)
Location: Dubai Desert, UAE
I was in Dubai on my own and booked a desert safari as I had wanted to experience it for myself and take some photographs if conditions were suitable. As luck would have it, I was the only one booked for the late time slot, so when I got on my camel, I just knew that an aerial shot would look interesting given both the lighting conditions so close to sunset and the riderless camels. If you look closely, I’m in the second camel from the front, simultaneously trying to get the shot and stay upright on the camel! I hope this photo conveys the sense of wonder and adventure I felt at the time. This was my first time on a camel! So trying to take a photo with my drone while also making sure I didn’t fall off was quite the experience. If I win, I would (after celebrating) use some of the money to get better photography gear and fund a trip to Mongolia - a place I have always wanted to visit. I would also buy a few surprise gifts for friends and family that have remained unwavering in their support. Finally, as I am also currently at the University of Oxford, I would use whatever was left to help with my living costs here!
'Daecheong Lake' by @pqiiiipq (South Korea)
Location: Daecheong Lake, South Korea
Autumn is an exceptionally beautiful season here, and a blessing for photographers. This beautiful scenery, enhanced on this occasion by a small boat when the fog rises in the early morning hours of the morning, is the reason why I go to this lake with my camera. The long rainy season of 40 consecutive days made Daecheong Lake full of water. The small trees submerged in the water show fragility as the water level begins to go down again, but the water mist covered it beautifully. I wore boots that come almost up to my chest, and I took a picture by lowering it closer to the surface. If I win, I will donate half of it to neighbours in need, update some of my old photography equipment, and put the rest away for my family.
@pqiiiipq, South Korea
'Black is beautiful' by @princeude_ (Nigeria)
Location: Landmark University, Omu-Aran, Kwara State, Nigeria
The increased activity in racism and racial profiling has pushed the narrative that being black is more of a curse than a blessing. This picture is a reminder that being black is beautiful. The picture was taken with a budget setup with the absence of any speed light equipment or studio setup. If I win, I would put the money towards furthering my education, in doing a master's degree.
'Mikurajima' by @reiko.t (Japan)
Location: Mikurajima Island, Japan
Mikurajima Island is famous for the habitat of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins. Currently, more than 160 dolphins live there, and last year 20 babies were born. The dolphins of Mikura Island are given names from the characteristics of each body. They are completely wild dolphins, but they are called by their name and loved by many people. They make various shapes and group formations; however, at the moment of this photo, they swam in a line side by side. I have wanted to swim with them for some time and was so happy to feel their welcome. I heard that dolphins rest only on one side of the brain when they sleep, and at that time, they line up side by side for safety confirmation. My dream is to photograph the Antarctic sea, so I would like to win the prize money to travel and shoot there.
'Two elements' by @sergeytolmachev (Russia)
Location: Moscow, Russia
I have been fascinated by water drops for a long time. One day, when it was raining, I looked at the drops and it seemed to me that they were falling in a special way. That was the first time I saw crowns instead of drops. I came home and decided to experiment with the "fall" of water and to shoot this exciting process. After a while, I got so fascinated by it that I have now read a lot of literature on the topic of water, its forms, and states. I even began to dream about the drops. Sometimes, instead of the drops, I saw various silhouettes and other fantastic water sculptures and I wanted to create them in reality. To do so, I had to create my own nozzles. Later, I started to add other elements into my works, such as fire, gold powder, smoke, etc. Many people still think that I use photoshop in my work. I do not, but I am glad that my photos do not leave people indifferent. The size of the water sculpture (jellyfish) in the picture is about 40cm. In order to receive the fire, I had to burn the brake parts cleaner. The nozzle was designed by myself. If I win, I would invest this prize money I knew more technically advanced photo equipment.
'Praying Covid-19 virus go away from the world' by @swetun (Myanmar)
Meditation is peaceful, calm, and healthy for all people. These monks can meditate for a long time, and even without eating dinner. We can learn a lot and be inspired by their way of life. If I win, I would like to donate the money to meditation and COVID-19 centres.
'The bright city lights shone down on him like a spotlight' by @theliamman (UK)
Location: Sunbeam Theatre, Hong Kong
As I was scouting out the area, trying to find a good composition, I noticed this figure shuffling across the road. I quickly positioned myself to frame him with the bright city lights in the background as a commentary on how the world is constantly changing. With both the lone stranger and theatre approaching the ends of their respective journeys. It had been raining all day and most of the city's residents were inside this evening. I thought it was interesting that one of the only people out on the streets was this man. It was still little drizzling while this shot was taken, and I noticed that he valued his umbrella more as a walking stick than as a rain shield. I had been planning to film a passion protect with some anti-poaching rangers that I am in contact with in the Serengeti. The Covid pandemic meant that I had to cancel these plans, so winning this prize would allow me to fulfill that goal when the time is right. I would love to continue using my creative energy to showcase the world, with all it's beauty, flaws, and secrets.
'Sleepy Polar Bear' by @uglefisk (Norway)
Location: Svalbard, Norway
We were on my boat, cruising to a big glacier as the plan was to see the glacier calve. Once we got closer, we saw a polar bear walking in front of it. As we were floating, the bear decided to take a nap. Once it got to sleep I wanted to create a peaceful yet powerful image, because polar bears are afraid of loud unfamiliar sounds. I also wanted to contrast his snow-less bed with the snowy mountains behind him that reflect the global warming crisis. Luckily, there was a small breeze which allowed us to very slowly get a little closer for the shot. Due to the world's situation with Covid-19 and non-essential travel not permitted, I would use some of the money to catch up travelling once it is allowed again. I would also invest in new equipment.
'Freediving mist' by @victordevalles (Spain)
Location: Menorca, Spain
The day I took this photo the sea was very flat and calm. When I went inside the cave, there was this kind of fog or cloud which, mixed with the sun rays, changed the colors, the texture, and the ambiance of the cave. After setting my camera down and starting the continuous shooting I went to the surface through the sun rays and managed to get the right shot. In my photos, I want to transmit those moments in which I freedive alone, calm in a beautiful and special place with rare and unique conditions. To go to this cave you need to walk close to high cliffs, walk between big rocks, swim a bit, and then dive around 30meters inside the cave, in the dark, wait for the sunrays to set the camera at the right place and swim to the place, wait then repeat the process to get the right shot. My passion is underwater photography, so this prize would allow me to keep doing what I love full time.
'El rescate' by @wmr.valdez (Spain)
Location: El Hierro, Canarias, Spain
I captured a rescue in the island's lava flows. If I win, I would donate one part and use the other to continue traveling and getting to know different cultures. I would certainly undertake a photographic project in Africa.
'Elders take great care of young kids' by @zayyarlin (Myanmar)
Location: Omo Valley, Ethiopia
I visited the Suri village to photograph the tribe's portraits and culture. For the last 20 years, the traditions of the Suri tribe have been in disarray. The arrival of guns has created an increasingly volatile, unregulated situation in a very unstable region. In the past, the role of the chief was to uphold values of restraint and non-violence, and to provide reconciliation between clashing groups and clans. Disputes were resolved by strict rules, debates, and rituals - for instance, sacrificing cows, verbal pledges, or firing of guns at rocks to signify that bullets must hit the earth and not people. Today, those rituals are being rejected in favor of immediate and bloody retribution. The Suri exist at the margins of the Ethiopian state. The government in Addis Ababa regards them as trouble makers. They feel neglected and discriminated against. They say that the government has unfairly targeted them for disarmament, despite the fact that their neighbors continue to attack them. The state has also tried to ban ‘harmful customs’, such as cattle-raiding and lip plates. To maintain the Suri culture and tradition, elders take great care of young kids who are the hope and inheritors of the Suri culture. I have created this photo to convey the message that Suri kids are the future of Suri culture and tradition which should be protected by elders in order to become the heirs of the Suri tribes. I asked and explained my planned shot to local guides and villagers actively participated to create this shot. I'm satisfied with their pose in this shot even though I didn't have good communication with them as I don't understand their language. If I were tobecome the Hero, I would like to go back to Ethiopia to donate necessities for the Suri tribe.
PR & Content Manager at Agora